Open Carry

Open Carry

Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 910, also known as the “open carry bill.”  The bill will allow licensed Texans to openly carry their handguns in a hip or shoulder holster, starting January 1, 2016.  Private businesses will still be allowed to prohibit handguns within their premises as long as they post the proper signs.  Under the version that was approved, law enforcement personnel have the authority to stop and question someone who is carrying to check for a gun license.

What’s your perception?

There is quite a bit of controversy about this new law, even within pro-gun citizens.  Some critics feel that openly seeing handguns in everyday places like movie theaters and stores will just make people anxious.  Picture this:  you go to a restaurant and see five individuals with handguns on their side holsters.  How would you feel?  Would you start to wonder if these people are responsible types, who are properly trained in using their guns?  Or would something set them off, then a fight and shoot out ensues?  On the other hand, these same five people could have had concealed handguns all along, but you never noticed and therefore you never really thought about it.  People have their own perceptions about guns being carried, and once it is out in the open they will have to deal with it.

My brother in law Bill has been waiting for this bill to be signed and he is gratified that it will finally go into effect.  He’s had his concealed carry license for years and feels this new law upholds the 2nd Amendment and celebrates freedom by extending the privilege to carry handguns openly.  He feels that law abiding citizens being allowed to carry openly would be a deterrent to potential criminals and make them think twice about attacking an armed individual.

One the other hand, my friend Jim is not as enthusiastic about the upcoming change.  He has a license as well, but feels that when you carry openly, you lose the element of surprise, and may potentially become a target.  If a criminal were to case out a store before a robbery, he or she will try and identify who is armed, and try to eliminate the threat.  On the other hand, Bill would argue that having a number of armed individuals would deter the criminal from robbing that particular store.  And so the argument continues.

I am not going to get into how I feel about it as I am not trying to sway anyone’s opinion.  Just voicing out the two sides.  How do you feel about this?   Would you carry openly if you were licensed a handgun in your state or country?

 

 

10 Remedies for Itchy Mosquito Bites

10 Remedies for Itchy Mosquito Bites

 

As I have shared previously, our area has been having a lot of rain these past two months. While I am grateful for an end to the drought, the enormous amounts of rain has resulted in flooding, and one other unwelcome effect: an explosion in the mosquito population.

Everywhere I look there are puddles and other forms of standing water: breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Just taking a half hour walk in the morning, I ended up with multiple mosquito bites on my arms.  Now I apply natural repellant before I walk out the door.

If you’ve ever had a mosquito bite, you know how itchy they can get. Scratching provides momentary relief, but spread the itch even more.

Here are 10 easy remedies for itchy mosquito bites:

  1. Miracle Salve  I have found that the Miracle Healing Salve, (originally found on Backdoor Survival), works to relieve mosquito bite itching, among many other uses.  I have made several batches of this salve.
  2. Deodorant  My son’s science teacher swears by deodorant to relieve itching. I’ve tried both scented and unscented, they seem to work equally well for a short time.
  3. Adhesive bandage Mr. Apartment Prepper just places a band-aid over the bite. It prevents further irritation from brushing up against surfaces and you eventually forget that it’s there.
  4. Alcohol   Place a dab of rubbing alcohol directly on the bite – it does help.
  5. Baking soda and water   Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply directly on the itch.
  6. Ammonia and water  Mix equal parts of plain ammonia and water and apply on the itchy area with a cotton ball.
  7. Vick’s Vapor Rub  My grandmother swore by this remedy.  When we were kids, she would dab a small amount of Vick’s Vapor Rub on the itchy bite.
  8. Tea tree oil   Mix five to six drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of olive oil. Apply with a cotton ball directly on the bite.
  9. Apple cider vinegar   I already use apple cider vinegar to ward off colds; it works to relieve itch as well. Place apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and rub directly on the bite.   The smell goes away after a few minutes.
  10. X marks the spot   If you find yourself without any of these home remedies, use a clean fingernail and make an “X” right on the bite. This seems to relieve the itch for a short time.

These are just some of the remedies that I have tried myself. For more ideas, check out these articles from our friends over at Prepared Bloggers:

Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings from Commonsense Home

How to Make Lucky Sherpa Plaintain Salve from The Survival Sherpa

Mosquitos are not only annoying, they also cause a number of diseases such as Chikungunya.  Get to the bottom of the problem:  Mom with a Prep shows how to Combat Mosquitos Naturally  

 

 

Should You Pay Off Debt or Buy Preps?

Should You Pay Off Debt or Buy Preps

A friend of mine, let’s call her Marie, called me about buying items for her stockpile while she was shopping at a big box store.  We went over beans, rice, sugar, canned foods, toilet paper and others good bulk items.  Marie told me she’d call me back after she got through the check out line.  Not even 30 seconds later, she called back telling me how mortified she was that her credit card was declined and she had no other way to pay.  I tried to make her feel better but I don’t think it worked.  We hung up soon after, as she left her cart of bulk items behind, muttering something about getting a drink on the way home.  I felt bad for her – it must have been awful to have your credit card declined in front of a whole line of people.

I had no idea she was having issues with debt; it is not the sort of thing that is comes up in everyday conversation.   I think many people are in denial about being debt, just as they are in denial about the need to prepare.

It is unfortunate my friend was not able to get the bulk items just as she was getting started but I think she can start by prepping in small steps.  When someone finally wakes up and feels the need to prepare, it is often accompanied by panic.  Thoughts about not having enough money to get all the gear you think you need fill your mind, and these thoughts might make you even more paralyzed.

How do you find money to prepare, while you are also trying to dig yourself out of debt?

Make a spending plan. 

On one column, list your income.  On the opposite column, list your expenses including rent or mortgage, utilities, food, gasoline then list your debts, and possibly savings.  Your income less expenses should have a small amount left, and you can allocate that to prepping.  I believe you can prep even if you start with $5 a week, as long as you do it consistently.

Stop charging.

I have seen advice or comments in other sites saying just run up the credit cards and buy all the emergency supplies even if it’s on credit.  I’d stay away from doing making additional charges, because that just sinks you further and further into the pit of debt.  In a year or two, if nothing happens, you will still be in debt and you will just blame yourself even more.

It is hard to put the cards away, but that is the only thing that works.  If you don’t carry it in your wallet, and it’s out of reach you are less likely to use it.  Switch to using cash only.

Try to get more money coming in.

There are lots of ways to make some money on the side.  Consider moonlighting, or making money from hobbies.  For more ideas, see Coming Up with Cash for Preps

While technically not getting more money coming in, using coupons increases your stockpile at a lower cost.  See Extreme Couponing to Boost your Supplies.

Learn money saving skills

Part of prepping is learning to be more self-sufficient and many of these skills can be learned for free.  Start now by visiting my section on Self Sufficiency  

I encourage you to try out even just one project a month, and you will end up saving some money.

What about Emergency Cash?

I would say as long as you are current on your bills, and are able to set aside a small amount for water, food and emergency supplies, then you should do so.  Having a small amount set aside for emergencies will help you avoid relying on credit cards then next time you need to replace a tire, pay for an emergency room visit or other unexpected expense.

Get help and inspiration.

If you are trying to recover from credit card debt, these sites offer excellent advise on  giving debt free living advice:

http://www.daveramsey.com/home/

Debt-Proof Living

Both sites have a members area, however, the free side is excellent and gives enough information to get started.

I also like the Surviving and Thriving blog by Donna Freedman, which features a bit of everything but also has some great advice about living well on a small budget.

If you are new to this site, please check out the “Getting Started” tab  as well as Saving Money

Being prepared for emergencies and having a small stockpile of your necessities will actually save you money in the long run.

 

Take control of your financial future!

Meal Replacement Shakes for Food Storage

Meal Replacement Shakes for Food Storage

I was at our local grocery store’s health food section as my teen son was looking for protein powder.  We found a large canister of one of the trusted brands at 20% off.  With several servings that would last for weeks, I started to think it would not be a bad idea to include meal replacement shakes or protein powder in the food storage shelf.

Why include meal replacement shakes in food storage?

  • Nutrition –  One serving provides protein and vitamins
  • Servings – One canister can last for weeks
  • Easy to prepare – when you don’t feel like cooking and need a quick meal, all you need to do is a bit of mixing and you have a nourishing drink
  • No other ingredients needed – many brands just require some water.
  • Shelf life – they have at least a couple of years shelf life
  • Storage – If you want to avoid the large canister, you can repackage them for long term storage in mylar bags

Some examples:

Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Vanilla

Ensure

Amazing Grass Chocolate Powder

GNC Total Lean Shake Vanilla Bean

Choosing your Nutritional Shake

There are so many variables, you would need to choose according to your own health conditions and preferences:  gluten free, sugar content, fat (saturated and unsaturated) content, sodium, organic etc.

If you prefer meal replacement bars, they are a good option as well.  We keep these high calorie SOS Rations Emergency 3600 Calorie Food Bars in the car.

There is just one caveat:  you must like the taste.  There is no point stocking up on something that tastes vile.  Take advantage of in store samples before you buy.  Before stocking up, try a small container first.

Ask about the store’s return policy.   Some stores, such as Trader Joe’s, have signs posted that they will accept your returns if you try a new product and you don’t like it.

I’m not suggesting you forgo canned foods, bulk food storage and freeze dried selections –  because of their convenience and nutritional value, meal replacement shakes would be a good addition to these other foods as part of an overall food storage plan.

10 Skills That Urban Preppers Should Learn

10 Skills That Urban Preppers Should Learn

By Tess Pennington

This article originally appeared in Ready Nutrition

Skills are a major part of prepping. Although it is important to have supplies in place; the belief is that skills, and not supplies, will give you a greater survival advantage during a long term emergency. Learning new survival skills and abilities creates a new platform of knowledge to draw on when times get tough.

There are many preppers who taking the time to make skill building a priority. The Survival Sherpa is applying his vast knowledge to the field and showing his audience ways to learn skills and be more efficient. Check his site out, it’s very informative. The Organic Prepper is turning her back on consumerism and focusing on finding local sources for food to create a food pantry.

There are many things you can learn to promote a more sustainable lifestyle while living in a densely populated area. In fact, 80% of the population lives in an urban environment, so do not let that stop you from your prepping endeavors.

Make the best of where you are and begin learning skills or continue refining them so that you can use them confidently during a disaster. Some great skills you can easily learn are:

  1.  Raise micro-livestock in small confines. Some popular breeds are rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, etc.
  2. Garden and produce your own food supply. You can easily grow these types of produce, even on an apartment patio!
  3. Forage for local plants and herbs. You’d be surprised to find some of these in your own backyard.
  4. Learn about hydroponic/aquaponic food production. There are many local classes and sustainability expos in your area that you can take advantage of. Alternatively, there are also community colleges that are offering these courses.
  5. If the proverbial S hits the F, we will see a lot of serious injuries, and even deaths, from people making unaccustomed physical demands on their bodies. Train your physical body now in the event of evacuations.
  6. Take an emergency first-aid class or self-defense class. The American Red Cross offers a variety of first-aid classes that you can take advantage of.
  7. Learn how to confidently use a firearm. A lot of dangers exist during and following emergency disasters. Learn how to protect your family by any means necessary. Many urban centers have gun ranges and classes to take to refine this important skill. This site can show you where the nearest gun ranges are.
  8. Start a prepper’s pantry and store shelf stable foods. We must put measures in place before a disaster is upon us in order to have these lifelines available to us when we need it the most. Check out these 25 must-have foods.
  9. Learn how to preserve your food supply. If you know how to dehydrate and use a pressure canner, then you are already ahead of the game.
  10. Go to farmer’s markets and get in contact with local growers and practice bartering. Here are some great tips on how to barter better.

Many families have to stay in urban areas for financial or familial reasons, but do not let that stop you from learning a more sustainable way of life. There are lots of things you can do and many people who are in the same place as you with the same interests. Sometimes your friends could end up teaching up and thing or two that they have learned along the way.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

 

Take control of your financial future!

Why You Need Gloves for Your Emergency Kit

Gloves

I never thought much about gloves until I started preparing.  At the most I had a pair of rubber gloves for washing dishes.  Now I have several types.

Disposable gloves

Disposable gloves can be used for quick and dirty jobs such as cleaning up messes, pet waste, handling contaminated surfaces to avoid infection etc.  However these are generally very flimsy.  Thankfully, they are not very expensive.  I got a 10 pack at the 99 Cents Only store, but a box from the warehouse store would be a better deal.

Heavy rubber gloves

If you do not want to run the risk of the gloves tearing, you’ll want a pair of heavy duty rubber gloves.  Use these for larger jobs such as hauling trash, burying waste, etc.  You can purchase these at any grocery or discount store.

Work gloves

The first time we went camping, I didn’t even think about bringing work gloves.  Mr. Apt. Prepper brought his and I saw how the gloves protect your hands from injury when picking up branches and chopping wood.

The next time we went out to the mountains, I came prepared with my own work gloves:

–I never had to worry about getting splinters and minor cuts.
–They give you a better grip
–Keep your hands warm as the day grows colder.
–Protection from heat as you tend the campfire.
–Keep your hands clean and lower the risk of infection

In the aftermath of a natural disaster or emergency, such as a hurricane or earthquake, you may have to pick up fallen branches, gather firewood, sift through broken glass and other heavy duty chores that will require protection from your hands.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of sets for each member of the family. You can keep one pair with the emergency supplies and one in the bug out bag.

Here are a couple of good ones:

For men:  Custom Leathercraft 125L Handyman Flex Grip Work Gloves, Large

For ladies: Wells Lamont 1124S Work Gloves, Grain/Split Palomino Cowhide

How to Create a Safe Room in Your House or Apartment

By Daisy Luther

This article originally appeared in The Organic Prepper

 

The homes of many rich, famous people have a secret hidden within them.  Somewhere, in the depths of the home, is a secure room to which the residents can retreat in the event of a home invasion or violent intruder.  A safe room was carved into the original house plan, and many of these are state of the art.  Features might include a bank of monitors for viewing what’s going on outside the room, a small kitchenette, comfortable furnishings, fresh air venting, and a hardened communications system.  These expertly designed rooms can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you don’t have to be a movie star or a multi-millionaire to build your own version of a safe room. Even the most humble home or apartment can have on a place to which vulnerable family members can retreat if they are under threat.

Why should you have a safe room?

Some folks may read this and think to themselves, “I don’t need a safe room when I have my 12 gauge shotgun and my 9 mm. That’s just running away.”

I completely understand your point. Most of the people who read prepping and survival sites are not of a “retreat” mentality.  But, if a gang of 12 thugs (possibly wearing badges) kicks down your door, how likely are you to shoot every single one of them before someone gets off a lucky shot and hits you?  Hint: If you aren’t tactically trained, the likelihood of this is pretty slim.

Here’s another reason: do you have vulnerable family members in the house? Children? A spouse or elderly relative? Someone who just isn’t a fighter?  Even if you intend to engage, you may have people in the home who are not willing or able to do so, and it will be better for you if they are safely out of the way.

A safe room is honestly just another prep. It doesn’t mean you are cowardly. It means you are ready for a variety of scenarios and that the safety of your family is paramount.  It is a layer of protection that allows vulnerable people to retreat until help arrives.

Here’s a perk: another great use for your safe room is that you can stash your valuables there. Most break-ins occur when you aren’t home.  If your valuables are locked away, a random tweaker searching for things to sell to support his habit is not going to be able to access your important papers, your fine jewelry, your firearms, or your most prized possessions.

Retreating to your safe room

When you retreat to your safe room, you have one goal: to end any possibility of interaction with an unwelcome person. Please don’t call it a panic room. That indicates that you are a scared victim.  You are retreating to a safer location because you don’t intend to be a victim. In a military gun battle, do soldiers move behind sandbags or into trenches? Of course. They want to limit the likelihood of being shot or otherwise injured. You may or may not be a trained soldier, but your goal is the same. It is to avoid being injured by a person who may be intent on injuring you.

A safe room is not a bunker. You probably aren’t going to be holed up in there for days during a stand-off. It is a point of retreat until help arrives.

The #1 rule of the safe room: DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE AND YOUR HOME HAS BEEN CLEARED. NOT FOR ANY REASON. A criminal will threaten, cajole, manipulate, and bully to try to make you come out. DON’T DO IT.

We’ve often talked about the importance of having a plan (as well as a few back-up plans) and running practice drills. A safe room is no different. All family members that are physically able should be able to quickly access the room. If you have several people in your household, you might want to put a keypad access on the door to the safe room so that whoever has retreated first is safely locked in without worrying about admitting the other family members.

Map out as many different ways as possible to get to the safe room from various locations in the house. This is a great time to get the kids involved, because children are explorers by nature. They may know routes that you had never even considered.  Practice, practice, practice.  Run timed drills and make a game out of how quickly all family members can get to the safe room and get the door secured.

Of course, the success of moving quickly to your safe room rests upon being alerted that someone is in your home.  You should have security measures in place that let you know that the home has been breached:

  • A dog
  • Inexpensive battery operated alarms on all entry points
  • A high quality monitored alarm system
  • A wireless alarm system that sounds an alarm and automatically calls for assistance
  • Outdoor sensors that will alert you when someone comes through your gate or approaches your home. (Note: If you’re like us and you live somewhere with a lot of wildlife, this option may not work well for you.)

The more of these early warnings you have, the better off you’ll be. Someone might get through one of the alarms, but how likely are they to get through 3 or 4 without you being alerted?

Where should your safe room be?

If you are building a new home from the ground up, you have the unique opportunity to have this special room added to the plans. In this case, your far less limited by the existing design and layout of the house. In fact, there are companies whose sole purpose is designing safe rooms for homes and businesses.  One of the most reputable, Gaffco, offers consultations, plans, and even construction of these rooms. Additionally, they offer “pods” that were originally designed for the US military, which can be incorporated into the design of your home or connected to the home via a breezeway.  These options are top of the line, and may be out of the affordable price range for the average family.

Most of us aren’t in that building process though, so we need to adapt part of our living space to make a safe room.   Some people adapt a large walk-in closet or pantry, while others refurbish a room in their home. DuPont offers a “Stormroom” that is reinforced with Kevlar and is epoxied to your garage floor. It’s designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, so it’s a good be that it will also withstand your average home invasion.  These start at $6000 for the smallest size.

Here are some important qualities:

  • No windows to the outside
  • Ventilation
  • Thick/reinforced walls
  • Water and a bathroom
  • Enough space for the number of people likely to shelter there
  • Ease of accessibility for the family from multiple locations in the house

Of course, finding all of these things, sitting there in one room, waiting for you to reinforce the door may not be likely so you have to work with what you’ve got.

Some good options are:

  • Walk-in closet
  • Master bedroom with attached bath
  • Basement family room
  • Storage room
  • Wine cellar (Not as outrageous as it sounds – surprisingly the humble little 2 bedroom Victorian cottage we used to live in had one)
  • Interior den with no windows
  • Inside an attached garage

If you intend to go full out and reinforce the walls, it will be less expensive to convert the smallest area that will house the required number of family members.

It is of vital importance to locate the safe room in a place that can be quicky and easily accessed by family members. If you have to run past the entry through which intruders just burst, you probably aren’t going to make it to the safe room. Remember, the most ideal safe room situation is one in which the criminal has no idea that you were home or, if he knows you’re home, has no idea where you may have gone.

One important thing to remember is that your safe room doesn’t have to only be a safe room. The best use of space would have the room used regularly for other purposes.  Most of the modifications you’ll make don’t have to be obvious. For example, if you’re reinforcing the walls, you can drywall over your reinforcements, paint the wall a happy color, and carry on with your life.  An attractive exterior type door can be painted to match the other interior doors in your home.  Even if you live in an apartment or condo, you can make some subtle changes to create a safe place to retreat.

The key here is to do the best you can with your resources and the space you have available. Let’s talk about the most important modifications.

The Door

The very first line of defense is the door you will slam behind you.  For many of us, this is where the majority of the money will be spent.

Forget about flimsy interior doors.  Most of them are hollow core and your average everyday axe wielding murderer or gangbanger intent on mayhem can get through them by kicking or punching through. Go to Home Depot and get yourself the very best exterior steel slab door that you can afford.  If your safe room is an ordinary room in the house, look for a door that can be painted to blend in with the other doors in the house. There’s no sense making it obvious that this room is special.

There’s no point in having a great door in a cruddy door frame. Your door is only as solid as the frame that holds it, so replace your standard interior door frame with reinforced steel. Get the absolute best quality you can afford, then paint it to match the rest of the door frames in your home.  Hang your door so it swings inward. Then you can add extra layers of security to the door.

You want to add more locks than just the doorknob type. For your primary lock, choose a heavy duty reinforced deadbolt system. You can also add a jimmy-proof security lock like this one for an added deterrent, but this should NOT be your primary lock.  You can add a door bar, the hardware for which would be fairly unobtrusive when the bar is not across it.  If you make all of these changes, NO ONE is getting through that door by kicking it in.

The Windows

Windows are a definite weak point in a safe room. If you are using a room that is also used for other purposes (like a master bedroom) you probably have them.  Don’t despair – they too can be reinforced.

The biggest threat with a window, of course, is that the glass will easily break, allowing someone to either get in the room or shoot people who are in the room.

You can go all out and replace the window in that room with a bulletproof security window.  Although they are very expensive, you may decide it’s worthwhile since it’s just for one room. If this is out of your price range, you can purchase ballistic film and apply it to your existing window.  This video shows you how much a high quality ballistic film will withstand.  If you’re doing this, do NOT skimp on quality.

If you have windows, no matter how resistant they are to impact, it’s a good idea to have curtains too.  You don’t want the aggressor standing out there watching you or casing your retreat.  Not only would that be mentally rattling, they just might figure out a way to breach your safe room or counteract your safety plan, like secondary communications.  They do not need to know how many people are in the safe room, what equipment and supplies you have, or what you’re doing in there.  Get heavy curtains and make sure they’re completely closed with no gaps whatsoever.

The Walls

This is where the serious expense comes in.  A round from a 9mm handgun can easily penetrate the walls of the average home. Dry wall does NOT stop bullets, not even from a weaker caliber gun. That’s why one of the most important rules of gun safety is to not only know your target, but what is beyond your target.  If your walls aren’t sturdy enough to withstand bullets, then you’ve basically just put your family into a box to be shot more easily.

One way to lessen the expense of this is to choose a room in the basement. If you build your retreat into a corner, then you have two exterior walls that are concrete surrounded by dirt – virtually unbreachable.  Then you only have two walls to worry about.  If you are in an apartment, the laws in most states insist that walls separating two apartments must be fire resistant. Therefore, the wall between your apartment and the next could be made of cement, providing one wall of safety.

Free plans for a variety of safe rooms are offered by the Department of Homeland Security. As well, FEMA offers free plans for a safe room that is designed to withstand natural disasters. This could be easily adapted for home security purposes too.

There are a few different ways to reinforce the walls of your safe room. Some of the following options may be out of your price range or skill level, and some may not be practical for your living situation.

  • Armored steel panels: One of the best ways to convert an existing room into a ballistic haven is by adding armored steel panels to the walls. You can add drywall over the panels and no one will even realize they are there. These are heavy and use on upper floors could damage the integrity of your structure. They’re expensive, with a bottom end price of about $400 for a 4×8 panel, but depending on the layout of the room, they may not be needed on every wall.
  • Kevlar: These resistant walls are made out of a fiberglass type material.  This is a much lighter weight alternative and can be used in places that can’t hold up to the addition of heavy steel or concrete. You can learn more about Kevlar construction from Total Security Solutions.
  • Poured concrete:  This MUST be used on a ground floor or in a basement because of the extreme weight.  This is a far less expensive option and can withstand most threats.
  • Sand:  This is another heavy weight option, but it can be far less expensive than other options, particularly if you live in an area with abundant sand.  A 12 inch thick barricade of sand can protect against many different ballistic threats. In a basement room, a sand-packed wall in between the exterior of the room and interior drywall can provide substantial protection at a lower price. The Prepper Journal has an interesting article on using sandbags to stop bullets. The ideas could potentially be adapted to the interior of your home.  For example, you could stack sandbags halfway up a wall and then build a lightweight wall over the sandbags – the inhabitants of the room would need to shelter behind the sandbags to remain safe.

Temporary options: For the average family, many of these solutions can be out of reach.  If you rent, you probably won’t want to do major construction, either. It’s best to choose a room that is already as sturdy as possible and then reinforce the weak points. Although these options aren’t anywhere near as resistant as the ones above, they are better than nothing.

  • Have a heavy duty item you can shelter behind, like a steel desk or deep freezer.
  • Line your walls with heavy furniture, like loaded bookcases with real wood backs, not flimsy particle board.
  • Line your walls with metal filing cabinets, fill the drawers with anything, and stay low.

The Camouflaged Safe Room

Even though safe rooms aren’t really a “fun” topic, a secret hidden safe room is the kind of thing that stirs the imagination.  After all, how many awesome movies from your youth began with the magical discovery of a stairway or room hidden behind a bookcase or a mysterious doorway at the back of the closet?

The success of a camouflaged safe room rests on the residents of the home quickly moving into hiding without the intruders even knowing that they are home. This is the best case scenario for an event during which you need to retreat to a safe room.

You don’t have to have a mysterious Victorian mansion to have a hidden safe room. Amazon sells a hidden door hinge system that you can use to create a bookcase door. (You can also buy plans for installing a bookcase door or even an entire bookcase door kit.) Other options might include a trap door in the floor hidden under an attached throw rug or a discreet door at the back of a closet behind all the clothing.

Don’t rely strictly on the secret entry for your security. It should be followed up by the reinforcements described above, in the event that the intruders discover you’ve gotten away.

Communications

As was discussed in the introduction, a safe room is simply a retreat. If you don’t have help coming, you could remain trapped in there indefinitely, particularly if the intruders decide to wait you out.

Remember the #1 rule of the safe room? DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SAFE AND YOUR HOME HAS BEEN CLEARED. NOT FOR ANY REASON. A criminal will threaten, cajole, manipulate, and bully to try to make you come out. DON’T DO IT.

You may not have had time to call 911 or your well-armed neighbor before sheltering in your safe room.  If that is the case, then you need to be able to summon assistance from within the safe room. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cell phone: Make sure you have an additional charger for your cellphone that stays in the safe room.  Remember that a cell phone is not 100% reliable.  While it’s not exceptionally likely that your average home invader will jam your cell phone, it’s possible. (WikiHow explains how easily one can be made and this device jams  both cell signals and WIFI. )
  • Landline phone: Put an old fashioned phone in your safe room. Don’t get one that relies on electricity to work. Even better, install a secondary buried line in the event that your primary line is disabled. If a criminal cuts one phone line, he generally won’t look for a secondary line.
  • Computer: Just like the secondary landline, above, consider a secondary internet access as well.  If you have Skype, you can also have an internet telephone system from which you can call for assistance, but be warned that you many not immediately reach your local 911 from a Skype phone.

Once you have 911 on the line, be sure to let them know that you are armed. (Cops hate surprises.)  If at all possible, stay on the line with the 911 operator so that you can confirm that help has arrived without opening the door of your safe room.

  • Two-way radio: If you have a trusted friend or neighbor nearby, a two way radio system is another way to summon help. This one transmits up to 36 miles.
  • Ham radio:  Be warned, you need an FCC license for a ham radio.  You can learn more about the different kinds of ham radios in this article.
  • Cameras:  While cameras won’t help you summon help, they can let you know what’s going on outside your safe room.  Especially important, a camera outside the door of the room will give you some advance warning if your retreat is about to be breached.  It can let you know if help has actually arrived or if the intruders are just trying to trick you into thinking so. This system feeds into your cell phone or your computer.

Supplies

You want to have enough supplies to stay in your safe room for 24-48 hours. Since this is a safe room and not a bunker, you don’t need  year’s supply of beans and rice in there.

  • Food: Stock up on food that doesn’t require any cooking or refrigeration. (This article is about food that you’d eat during a power outage but many of the suggestions will work for your safe room supply.)
  • Water: Even if you have an attached bathroom with running water, store at least one gallon per person that is likely to be in the room,.  Just in case. Because stuff happens, especially when bad guys are around.
  • Cold weather gear: In the event that your heat stops working during cold weather, stash a selection of winter coats, gloves, hats, sleeping bags, and a warm change of clothing.
  • Entertainment:  Really.  If you end up in the room for more than a couple of hours, you’ll go insane just staring at the monitors.  As well, if there are children in there with you, they’ll handle the ordeal much better with some distractions.  Keep some books, games, puzzles, DVDs, etc., in the safe room.
  • Sanitation: Ideally, you’ll have an actual bathroom as part of your safe room. If not, you’ll need a place to relieve yourself.  The best portable option is a camping toilet, which will eventually have to be emptied, but holds over 5 gallons and should last throughout any amount of time you’d be in your safe room. Also stock hand sanitizer, baby wipes, feminine hygiene supplies, and diapers, if applicable to your family.
  • Special needs items:  Remember that movie “Panic Room”, with Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart?  They were forced to leave the safe room because it wasn’t stocked with the necessary supplies for the diabetic child.  Don’t let this happen to you. Not only will you stock your safe room with food, but keep extra medication for any family members with special needs.
  • First aid supplies: Keep a full first aid kit, as well as a manual, in your safe room. If a family member was injured on the way to the room, you want to be able to provide some care for them. Particularly focus on supplies necessary for traumatic injuries.  Also stock things like antacids, pain relievers,  and anti-diarrheal medications. You can find a great first aid supply list in this article.
  • Emergency supplies: Always keep a fire extinguisher, goggles, and some particulate masks in your safe room.  A very determined criminal might try to force you to leave the room by starting a fire. Depending on the materials used in the construction of your room, this could be successful.  The goggles and masks aren’t perfect, but they give you a chance to launch an offensive if you do have to leave the safe room.

Defense

Here’s the bottom line: If an intruder somehow manages to breach your safe room, the time for retreat is completely over.   There’s no option left – you have to be prepared to fight like your life depends on it.  If an intruder has gone to the trouble to break through all of your defenses to get to you, your life most likely does depend on your ability to mount an aggressive defense.

Aside from your primary defense weapon (which you’re probably carrying with you), all of your other weapons should be stored in your safe room. Your extra ammunition should be stored there too.

Is every person of reasonable age in your family able to handle a weapon? If not, it’s time to sign up for classes or go to the range.

You need to have a plan in the event your defenses are breached. You don’t want any “friendly fire” injuries to occur. This plan will be different for every family based on individual skills, on available weapons, and on the set-up of your safe room.

The safe room is your final point of retreat. If someone brings the battle to you, you must be prepared, both mentally and physically. Otherwise, you and your family are like fish in a barrel, neatly corralled targets for the intruders.

 What would you add to this list?

Whether you actually have a safe room in your home, or you’ve considered building one, do you have some things to add to the lists above?  Please share them on the original article so that the suggestions may be added to benefit other readers.

Resources

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

Preparing your Battle Space

Home Invasion: Preventative Security Layers to Protect the Home

About the Author:

Daisy Luther lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and the soon-to-be-released The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter.

 



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10 Tips for Renting a Storage Facility for Emergency Supplies

10 Tips for Renting a Storage Facility for Emergency Supplies

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Now that we have moved to a smaller apartment, we are using every available space for storing supplies.

What if there is absolutely no room left in the apartment for storage; after you have purged stuff and added creative space savers, what else can you do for storage?  One possible solution that may work for some is to rent a storage unit.

What to consider when choosing a storage facility:

  1. Accessibility.   Choose a storage facility that is close to your home, in case you have to walk.  You must be able to get to the unit quickly in an emergency.
  2. Cleanliness.  Inspect the units and note any trash and pests.  The storage facility must fumigate regularly.  Unless you are only storing canned food, your stored food should be properly stored in mylar bags and in sealed five gallon buckets.
  3. Temperature.  If you live in a hot, humid area, the unit must be temperature controlled.  Same reason I do not recommend a garage unless you live in a temperate area, you don’t want to store your precious food and emergency supplies in a hot, humid environment as this will degrade the quality of your supplies.  If you live in an area that is cool most of the year then you are in luck, you do not need a temperature controlled facility.
  4. Pricing.   The size of the units vary, so you will need to research what’s available in your area.  Once you know the price range, you should also check your budget to make sure you have room for the additional expense.  Check online for special deals such as “First or 2nd month free” or size upgrade discounts.
  5. Size  There are various sizes available such as 5×5, 5×10, 10×10, 10×20 or 20×20 are some examples.  You would need to assess your own needs and looking at the units before choosing.
  6. Neighborhood.  The storage facility must be in a secure area and in a good neighborhood.  The area should be well lighted and be monitored 24 hours a day.  Some facilities have an on-site manager living in the premises but that is rare.  A coworker of mine rented a storage unit for her excess stuff, that was in a questionable neighborhood but was dirt cheap.  The unit was broken into, and it was several days before the management even informed her.  Also consider how close the place is to a busy street or unsavory hang-outs.
  7. Floor location.  Is the unit in the ground floor on on a higher floor?  Ground floor units are easier to access when carrying heavy loads, but I also worry that thieves may try to break in the easier to reach units.
  8. Locks.  Some locks are easier to cut through than others.  Also, some facilities allow only proprietary locks that you purchase from them for an additional fee.
  9. What are you storing?  Storage facility applications always ask what you are planning to store in your unit.  There are certain items that are prohibited:  combustible materials such as gasoline, propane tanks, fireworks; they also frown upon firearms and ammunition.  Each state or jurisdiction may also have its own rules about what can be stored, and what the storage company is obligated to report so check on these issues before taking your items to storage.
  10. Read the fine print In relation to #8 above, always read the storage agreement so you are aware of your rights, and what you can and can’t do.

If you have a like minded friend or relative, you might be able to share the space and split the monthly storage cost.  You  just have to be sure you trust them completely and they won’t run off with your stuff if an emergency happens.

Keep track of your unit and check on it every once in a while.  Make a list of what you have stored.  We’ve all seen those “reality shows” about storage unit buyers making a profit by buying abandoned storage units.  If you can no longer afford the fees, cancel and clean out your unit before it is seized from you.  You’d want to at least be able benefit from your stockpile instead of losing out.

For now I am trying to fit my supplies in every available space in my apartment.  But I did research the storage units in my area, so I would consider it if I do run out of room.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

How to Avoid Losing Everything in a Disaster

Pay attention to your surroundings

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

In the aftermath of the recent historic flooding in Houston, we saw a few neighbors hauling out all their furniture, carpets and other belongings that were drenched by floodwaters.  Some families are even worse off as entire homes were engulfed and carried off in the floods.

Preppers try to be ready for emergencies whether foreseeable or not, but there are always inherent risks to everything.  If you store your preps in your home, it is possible to lose them should a tornado strike, or should floodwater or fire engulf your home.  I’m not trying to say it’s pointless to prep, this is all the more reason to carefully consider what steps to take in order to minimize the risk.

What are some things you can do now to help you mitigate the risks?

I don’t have all the answers but I thought I’d just post some thoughts to get us started in figuring out the best way to prepare for a major disaster.

  • List all disasters that are possible in your area.  It is pointless to worry about earthquakes if you never have earthquakes in your area, or radiation leaks if you don’t have a nuclear power plant nearby.   I have never experienced a tornado in Houston, but some residents have experienced small ones that have touched down in outlying areas.  Therefore, we have to consider the possibility.  
  • Stay aware of what’s going on so you can plan accordingly.  Trust your gut:  if you have a bad feeling that something is about to happen, heed those warnings.  The worse that can happen is you’ll feel foolish about overreacting later, but if something does happen, you will be glad you trusted your gut.
  • Get adequate insurance coverage for your home or apartment.  Read the policy thoroughly so you understand what is covered.  Flood insurance is not covered by most standard policies and a separate policy would have to be obtained.  Keep a copy of your insurance policies in a safe place, and a backup copy elsewhere.
  • Take photos or video of your belongings for your records and note the date taken in case you have to file a claim.  Store it in a safe place and have a backup location.
  • Have a hard copy of all your emergency contacts instead of storing everything in your cell phone.  If you were to lose your cell phone in a disaster, you will be hard pressed to search for your contacts at a time when your mind is reeling.
  • Learning survival and self sufficiency skills is a great hedge against losing everything.  Even if you lose your physical preps, the knowledge you have gained will help you start over.
  • Make an emergency plan so every family member knows what to do.
  • Conduct drills to practice your emergency plan
  • Have some savings set aside, in various areas that are accessible to you.  I always get flack for suggesting you keep some savings in a bank, but if you keep everything at home and you lose that home, at least the bank will still be standing.  If you don’t like large banks, then a local credit union is a good option.
  • As a final thought, sometimes, you just need to pray for strength and have faith in God that you will have the courage to endure.

A Little Help from Friends

You don’t have to do this alone – there are a lot of sites that can help you along.  Best of all, learning all this information won’t cost you anything.  Here are a few sites to get you started:

Backdoor Survival

Mom with a Prep

Geek Prepper

The Organic Prepper

The Survival Mom

Graywolf Survival

Ready Nutrition

Prepper Website

Survival Sherpa

Urban Survival Site

Just as there is no way to be insured for everything, there is no way to prepare for every disaster under the sun.  But you can try your best to take these steps, set your mind at ease, knowing that you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your family.

 

 © Apartment Prepper 2015

Polar Pure Water Disinfectant Review

Polar Pure Review

I received a review sample of Polar Pure Water Disinfectant.  It is an iodine water disinfectant that kills viruses, living organisms (including Giardia cysts) and bacteria in the water. Polar Pure has been around for years, and has been well regarded by campers, backpackers and preppers.  Unfortunately, it went off the market around 2010 because meth cookers reportedly used the iodine crystals to manufacture methamphetamine.  This resulted in more stringent laws involving iodine crystals.  The manufacturers of Polar Pure redesigned the product’s formula, using just slightly more iodine and adding a more accurate temperature gauge.  The process to obtain licensing from the DEA took four years and now they are back in the market.

Polar Pure

Easy to use

To use, you simply add water (use a bandanna or t-shirt to filter out dirt and sediment from the water) to the bottle.  The solution will be ready to use in one hour.  The bottle has a dosage table showing how much to use to disinfect water.  It only takes one capful to purify one liter of water.

Portability

The Polar Pure comes in a small bottle.  I can see why backpackers and campers would want to have a Polar Pure bottle in their packs.  It is portable and good for many water treatments.

Taste

I tried the treated water, and detected a very slight iodine smell.  It did not really bother me, but if you like you can add a flavored drink mix to your water to improve the taste or smell.

Cost

Polar Pure costs $19.99 per bottle and will effectively treat Up to 2,000 quarts of water.  It is reasonably priced.

I think Polar Pure is a great product to have in your inventory of water purification methods.  However, if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish, you would need to choose a different purification method, as Polar Pure’s main ingredient is iodine.  I can see why many hikers and backpackers are glad Polar Pure is back on the market.   After testing it myself, I plan on purchasing a bottle or two, so I can add it to my emergency supplies.

 

Disclosure: This is a professional review site that sometimes receives free merchandise from the companies whose products we review and recommend. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. Apartmentprepper.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com



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